Paes-Tipsarevic make the doubles final; Bhupathi-Bopanna squander away their advantage

The Fourth-seeded Milos Raonic blazed 17 aces past the second-seeded Nicolas Almagro to enter his third ATP World Tour final, in the Aircel Chennai Open here on Saturday.

In Sunday's final, Raonic will face top-seeded Janko Tipsarevic, who showed Japanese pretender Go Soeda — ranked 120 — his place in tennis' cruel hierarchy with a 6-1, 6-4 disembowelling of the Asian.

The Serbian entered the doubles final too, as his third-seeded association with Leander Paes overcame a 0-5 deficit in the Super tie-break to defeat second- seeded Americans Scott Lipsky and Rajeev Ram 6-2, 6-7(1), 10-7.

The top seeds Mahesh Bhupathi and Rohan Bopanna, however, gave up a set and a break advantage to lose 6-4, 3-6, 8-10 to the experienced Jonathan Erlich and Andy Ram of Israel.

Earlier, the baby-faced Raonic summoned his napalm serves to hurtle 6-4, 6-4 across World No. 10 Almagro, whose purported feistiness was ground into insignificance in the face of some huge hitting by the 21-year-old Canadian in the first singles semifinal.

Like a sharp-shooting flamethrower, Raonic hurled balls of fire at the Spaniard, relying on his serve to deliver him out of trouble on the rare few instances he found himself in it. The World No. 31 broke Almagro in the seventh game of the opening set, creaming a forehand cross-court winner past the wannabe retriever.

Raonic then flung down four successive aces to hold for 5-3, and held again to go a set up, as Almagro searched in vain for an antidote to the injurious serve.

A winner of 10 clay court ATP Tour titles, Almagro kept abreast of his younger adversary until the eighth game of the second set, but relented on his second break-point in the ninth game to go 4-5 down — a potentially match-winning scenario for the Canadian going by the way his serve was ticking along.

Raonic found himself 15-40 down serving for a place in the final and what followed was a reaffirmation of all that had gone past: an ace (221 kmph), a double-handed back hand winner down the line, a service winner (215 kmph), another break-point, followed by three gigantic serves — the last of which (at match-point) took the remarkably poised Raonic into another ATP final appearance after 72 minutes on court.

“It comes together naturally, and you don't even have time to think about it. I just stuck to things I knew well and played aggressive tennis,” said Raonic later, when pressed to deconstruct the reasons behind his success.

Later, Raonic's final opponent Tipsarevic flogged semifinal gate-crasher Soeda a day after the unseeded no-hoper had upset the defending champion Stanislas Wawrinka in straight sets. The bubbly Japanese appeared to have lost all his fizz as he gave in tamely to the World No. 9 Tipsarevic in 79 minutes.

Having been stretched to three sets by unheralded Belgian David Goffin late on Friday night, Tipsarevic started furiously against Soeda, asserting the undisputed advantage that a superior ranking bestows upon its possessor.

Sizing up the Asian player's game from behind the space-age spectacles, Tipsarevic broke Soeda twice to go 6-1 ahead. The lead in his pocket, Tipsarevic moved into high gear in the second set.

Winners streaked out from his racket like beams of electricity from a Taser, shocking Soeda into submission.

The second set, though, was more of a contest. Tipsarevic registered breaks in the fifth and seventh games (but surrendered his serve in the sixth) to enter the final after completing a 6-1, 6-4 win in an hour and 19 minutes.

The results: Semifinals: Singles: Milos Raonic (Can) bt Nicolas Almagro (Esp) 6-4, 6-4; Janko Tipsarevic (Srb) bt Go Soeda (Jap) 6-1, 6-4.

Doubles: Jonathan Erlich (Isr) & Andy Ram (Isr) bt Mahesh Bhupathi (Ind) & Rohan Bopanna (Ind) 4-6, 6-3, 10-8; Leander Paes (Ind) & Janko Tipsarevic bt Scott Lipsky (US) & Rajeev Ram (US) 6-2, 6-7(1), 10-7.


‘Tomorrow's another day'January 8, 2012

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